Are You Ready? September is National Preparedness Month

How prepared is your business for a disaster? Though we all hope a disaster will never happen on our own turf, we can never be 100% sure that it won’t. The businesses that stand the best chance of survival and recovery are those that prepare in advance. Here’s what you need to consider.

Be Serious. Be Prepared.

Be serious, be prepared, the Department of Homeland Security advises when it comes to preparing for natural disasters.

“National Preparedness Month is an important reminder about each American’s civic responsibility to prepare for emergencies,” said Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. “Those with the capacity and wherewithal to help themselves must do so in advance, so that in the event of an emergency, responders can first assist those unable to tend to themselves. From wildfires and earthquakes in California, to hurricanes and tropical storms along the Gulf Coast, to flooding in the Midwest, recent events remind us more than ever that we must prepare ourselves and our families for a disaster. This is the time of year, each year, when every American should ask the question, ‘Am I ready?'”

Homeland Security’s Ready campaign is sponsoring the fifth annual National Preparedness Month with support from more than 2,700 coalition members from national, state, and local agencies and organizations. The advertising campaign is designed to encourage Americans to take simple steps to prepare for emergencies in their homes, businesses, and communities.

“There’s a tendency — and it’s human nature — to think that a large-scale disaster is not going to happen where you live,” said Small Business Administration (SBA) Acting Administrator Sandy K. Baruah. “Accepting the inevitability of an emergency, and then taking responsibility for your own recovery are the necessary first steps towards protecting your family, your assets, and your community.”

Prepare an Emergency Plan

The SBA suggests that an emergency plan is as important as your business plan. An emergency plan can help you while being shut down for a few days. The SBA also advises that you meet with an insurance agent who understands the needs of your business. Business-interruption insurance replaces income lost when a business suffers downtime due to disasters. It is important to know what your insurance does not cover.

As a business owner, you should ask yourself the following questions:

  • Am I prepared to relocate temporarily?
  • What would happen if my suppliers shut down?
  • Do my employees know what to do in case of an emergency?

The SBA also suggests to act as a safety coordinator for planning safety drills and developing evacuation plans. Someone should act as the company spokesperson and implement a recovery communication plan. In the aftermath of an emergency, you will need to contact suppliers, creditors, employees, customers, media, and utility companies to get the word out that your business is viable.

The Ready Campaign

The Ready Campaign suggests that business owners keep copies of important records such as site maps, building plans, insurance policies, employee contacts, and other priority documents in a waterproof and fireproof portable container. It is also advisable to store a second set of records at an off-site location. Business owners should also encourage all of their employees to have a portable emergency kit customized to meet their personal needs, such as essential medications.

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